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The friendly metropolis

June 11, 2007

In which the personal aesthetics of Idle Tigers are fairly and squarely interrogated.

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I have tended to presume that an idle tiger is an urban tiger. An idle tiger rearranges the city according to her liking. She drinks petrol from the late-night bus. What does it mean, then, that my previous posts have been about water, and conservatories, smaller cats than me, and things of that nature? And what about my unlikely support for (affected) provincialism?

By familiar coincidence, the Big Book that I’m reading at the moment (but only because I’m going to be soundly examined on such matters in September, which is none of your business) is subtitled “A Study of Provincial Life”. That is, George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Actually, I first read Middlemarch about six years ago and I can say with a certain pride that I’m the only person I know who managed to get through the whole thing without enjoying any of it. Everyone else I’ve spoken to about this ended up being charmed. Not me.

But that’s by the by-way. The question, really is this: has your urban tiger gone to pieces?

In a word, no. This is a flower:

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I say it’s a flower because Toronto is a friendly metropolis. It’s a collection of folds and villages, pretending to be a city. Which means that this is a building:

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I happen to be an architect.

Someone at the BBC’s light news desk loves a good tiger story. First there was the story about the urban tiger in India who was going round eating security cameras. Then there was the fact that the fence around the tiger enclosure (enclosing a tiger, indeed!!!) had to be rebuilt, because tigers could easily jump over the 6 foot fence, and trot around Regent’s Park, if they chose to do so… but they just choose not to do so, for now.

So there’s two tigers walking around Regent’s Park, and one says to the other, “there’s not many people about today, is there?”. One day someone will get it.

I am not wildly off topic. I am urbanely off topic.

I don’t know whether a tiger would be any more tempted by Christie Pitts park, but I like it. The lovely thing about the spot where the next photograph was taken is that you can lie with your ear on the grass, and feel and hear subway trains purring and shivering beneath you. Whoever looks after Toronto’s parks (some kind of massive gardener, I imagine; I’m going to write more properly about gardens soonish) has a saying that they’re fond of–something about a city within a park.

Which reminds me–since Friday I have been irritated by a corneal abrasion. That is, something in my eye. One minute, my eye was in the street, and the next, the street was in my eye. And there was a foreign body in my foreign body. Whatever’s in there is not keen on coming out again. This metropolitan friendliness is a tricky business.

And finally, here are two pictures of Bickford Park. An eager eye (and an eye less invaded than mine) will spot that whatever it is that these people think they were doing, and whatever it is that I was doing, are essentially the same activity. Good afternoon.

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